1. The inaugural race in 1994. A packed house sees Jeff Gordon and Ernie Irvan in a memorable two-man duel. Gordon takes the lead when Irvan suffers a flat tire, and the driver who grew up in nearby Pittsboro takes a popular win.
2. Tony Stewart’s first win in 2005. He had had several strong showings at Indy – his hometown track – several times in both an IndyCar and a stock car, and finally got over the hump. He repeated in 2007.
3. The 1998 race had storylines aplenty. Dale Jarrett has – by far – the best car, but runs out of gas while leading halfway through the race. He loses four laps as a result, and gets back on the lead lap by passing the leader driver on each restart, eventually getting to the lead lap. Gordon becomes the race’s first two-time winner in a two-man duel with Mark Martin.
4. The Brickyard’s sophomore race in 1995 was a wild one due to weather. It looked like a washout as the remnants of Hurricane Erin deluged the city during the day, but the well-organized storm moved east and the sun came out, drying the track at record speed. As a result, more than 100,000 fans tried to head to the Speedway at the same time – fans were still coming in halfway through the race, which began at 4:30 p.m. At 2:34, the race was the fastest in the event’s history – with only one caution – and saw Dale Earnhardt win the race in the twilight.
5. The “tiregate” race of 2008. The first for NASCAR’s new “Car of Tomorrow,” the race was marred by tires that were disintegrating on the IMS surface and lasted only approximately 10 laps at speed. As a result, NASCAR threw competition cautions every 10 laps. Jimmie Johnson won the race, but the victory was overshadowed by the tire issues.
6. While many fans remember the tire race in 2008, few remember the preceding years also saw some tire issues. Jimmie Johnson blew a tire early in the 2006 race. The unscheduled pit stop put him way back in the field, but he took advantage of multiple cautions to move to the front and win the race.
7. Juan Montoya dominates the 2009 race, but a pit road speeding infraction takes away his chances of winning. Instead, Jimmie Johnson wins his third Brickyard, with Mark Martin second. Johnson would win his fourth in 2011. The next year, Montoya would dominate the race again and lose it in the pits, with a four-tire stop putting him far back in the running order.
8. Jeff Gordon becomes the race’s first four-time winner in 2004. It actually takes 402.5 miles – NASCAR’s first-ever green-white-checker finish extends the race by a lap. On the last lap, Gordon holds off a challenge, but the race finishes under caution anyway because of accidents and tire issues involving Casey Mears, Mark Martin and several other drivers.
9. Jimmie Johnson wins his fourth Brickyard 400 in 2012, leading through a late-race restart and pulling away to the victory.
10. The popular wins – driver-owner Ricky Rudd in 1997, Jarrett’s redemption in 1999, Bill Elliott in 2002. And the unexpected wins – Rudd, Jamie McMurray in 2010 and Paul Menard in 2011.